“I cannot tell you how proud I am of who you are going to be.”
So said the longtime congressman Charles Rangel, now retired, in remarks to an audience of 12 SIPA fellowship recipients who will serve as American diplomats in the coming years. The five first-year and seven second-year students are all participants in the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Graduate Fellowship Program, a U.S. State Department initiative that encourages diversity and excellence among foreign service officers.
The fellowships provide up to $37,500 per year for graduate-school tuition and other expenses. Participants complete two summer internships and receive additional mentoring to help prepare them for positions in the U.S. Foreign Service, in which they serve for at least five years.
“Once you become internationalized, it becomes your way of life,” Rangel told attendees.
Rangel, a Democrat, represented Harlem and adjacent neighborhoods in Congress for 46 years from 1971 to 2017. A staunch advocate for greater inclusion, he believed the U.S. Foreign Service should better reflect the people it was representing, and championed the creation of a program to support this goal.
Since it was established in 2002, the highly competitive program has enabled hundreds of students from historically underrepresented backgrounds to join the nation’s diplomatic corps. Since 2013 alone, SIPA has enrolled more than 55 Rangel Fellows, who received more than $1.6 million in aggregate.
Joining Rangel at the February 5 gathering were SIPA faculty members Ester Fuchs, who introduced the congressman, and David N. Dinkins, the 106th mayor of New York City who has been a professor of practice in public policy at SIPA since 1994. Dinkins has long been one of Rangel’s closest friends and political allies; the two men, who refer to each other as “brothers,” comprised half of New York’s famed “Gang of Four,” a quartet of powerful politicians from Harlem whose members went on to occupy top posts in city, state, or federal government.
Rangel spoke briefly about his experience in government and interest in creating the program, and then asked the fellows about their backgrounds. He concluded the meeting in much of the same way he opened it: by expressing his pride in the brilliant people in the room.
“The State Department is one of our nation’s best kept secret, and they need you so much,” Rangel said. “You are all so talented.”
— Alexandra Feldhausen MIA ’19
Pictured above: [standing, from left] Surayya Diggs MPA ’19, Kier Joy MIA ’19, Asha Hardy MPA-DP ’20, Aaron Bhatt MPA ’20, Tanya Donangmaye MIA ’19, Paula Crawford MPA ’20, Johanna Sanchez MPA-DP ’19, Marta Aparicio MIA ’20, Rep. Charles Rangel, Saumya Deva MPA ’19, Kala Deterville MPA ’20, Matt Hinson MIA ’19, Cyprian Christian MIA ’19; [seated] Mayor David N. Dinkins